Music Management 101: Andy Kabamba Talks Aspiring To Be Birdman & How He Got There
Andy Kabamba is a music manager, A&R, and person for the streets. He states, “I move to the sound of the beat.” A former choreographer, it all started with the love of dance. From there, he fell in love with hip-hop and entertainment. Dance would attach him to music, eventually going on tour dancing for J. Holiday at his peak. “It was fun, it was passionate,” he remembers.
Born and raised in Congo, Africa, Andy came to the States at age 12. His uncle was NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, which meant hoop dreams. Every summer, they’d attend games living their best life. Once he moved to Los Angeles from Boston at 19 years old, he became acclimated with various agencies and began doing gigs.
One day, he ended up on a set with Jay Sean who was at his peak with “Down” after signing to Cash Money Records. Seeing Birdman for the first time, he thought “man, that’s it. That’s what I want to be right there.”
Fast forward to 2020, Andy has his own management company titled 365 Management. Clients include T-Pain, A1 Bentley, Dre Moon, Lakeith Stanfield, and more.
AllHipHop caught up with Andy to discuss how he got his start from choreographer to management, including working with producer Dre Moon and Future.
AllHipHop: What was it about Birdman that you liked that day on Jay Sean’s set?
Andy Kabamba: Jay Sean’s still going through his winning moment with “Down,” signing to Cash Money Records. While on set, I saw Birdman walk up. I saw Birdman on the side, smoking a blunt and catching a vibe. I thought “he’s overseeing the video, that’s what I want to be doing. This dance, behind the camera s##t ain’t it.” I was hooked. I quit, jumped a whole career and started from the bottom. Started going after it.
AllHipHop: How did you start to go after ‘it’?
Andy Kabamba: I figured since I know the stage being a performer, I had to go back. I needed to get my own artists. In order to get my own artists, I needed to start from the bottom. Either build one or get with someone who’s trying to climb up. From there, I started working with a bunch of different people. Started working with Nipsey Hussle, one of the first people to believe in me. Nipsey gave me a chance to bring him music, to creative direct his stage.
This was the beginning of Nipsey, the “Feeling Myself” featuring Lloyd Nipsey. Helped him with a few shows on stage, it was fun. Good times. I was hot from there. Started f##king with Kevin McCall when he was hot on “Deuces,” then I finally ran into Detail, the producer. I thought “if I could build this guy into an artist, I could prove myself.” I saw that he’s working with Lil Wayne and said “wow, I gotta f##k with this guy.”
AllHipHop: So you found Detail as a producer and wanted to manage him?
Andy Kabamba: I wanted to manage him, help him, break him as an artist. I did whatever it took to put him as an elite producer. That was in LA, before he had all the placements. At this point, his biggest record was “Sexy Can I?” by Ray J. We started working, I did my best. I started out as an assistant and pushed him all the way to the limit. He started going hard on music and production. He wrote “How to Love” for Lil Wayne, which got us close to Cash Money Records. You do a record for Lil Wayne, Birdman and Slim are going to pull you in. That’s the cash cow! It’s funny I was back around Birdman again. s##t, I was back around my idol again.
AllHipHop: Take us back to those Cash Money Days, what was that like?
Andy Kabamba: It was amazing! We’d go to Miami. Birdman tells you “come in for the weekend,” you end up staying for 4 months. Hotel life, hotels start feeling like apartments. Those were the days, we were everywhere. Music started going from there. We got to build, working with Wayne and the whole Cash Money Records team. Being with Birdman, Nicki [Minaj], Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz, every artist Wayne had. You’re working around a whole circuit. Cash Money was signing so many people: Busta Rhymes, Bow Wow. They’re doing a lot of s##t at the time.
AllHipHop: At this point, you’re still managing Detail?
Andy Kabamba: At this point I’m still assisting, about to step into that management role. I’m still busting my ass. We’re doing music. I’m assisting, bringing in producers. I got a hold of that niche, and turned up. Eventually found and brought in Dre Moon and his group.
AllHipHop: How did you find Dre Moon?
Andy Kabamba: I went to school in Manchester, New Hampshire. New England area near Boston. A friend of mine from my hometown made beats, he came to me wanting to submit music. The music was from Dre and his boys, ended up being really dope. We loved it. We brought them in to make music with us, that’s how we started getting all the big records. “Tapout” for Rich Gang, “No Worries” for Lil Wayne, s##t kept going. The hits started coming, everything’s coming together. We made a whole Rich Gang album, we’re on the road working on stuff. Detail got signed to Cash Money Records.
AllHipHop: How was the experience following Detail’s signing?
Andy Kabamba: It was cool. Being with Birdman, Slim, Cash Money Records, you have access to a lot of things. You have a lot of freedom on what you want to do, what you want to be. Free reign control. You’re doing production, artist stuff, going out to the club with them, you look like straight money. You’re on the jets back and forth. You’re living that life, it’s crazy. Cash Money was so crazy at that moment. You could walk somewhere and if you’re a part of Cash Money Records, you spit on the ground and they all run to you.
AllHipHop: How did you learn the management side of things?
Andy Kabamba: Man, being under people. Learning a lot, peers. I was very humble. When I was an assistant, I’d ask questions. I was never scared. I’d ask every question.
AllHipHop: Did you ever ask managers how they did s##t?
Andy Kabamba: No, I asked them how they’re doing it. “Yo, so what’s that? What did you do right here?” I pick up very well. I see things for what it is. I was an assistant at first, met Future around Cash Money Record days too. People like Future would say “man, you’re a superstar assistant, goddamn. You’re moving and doing everything.” Nelly, Busta, everybody would give me my props a lot in those days. I’ve known all these guys for 8 to 9 years, they’d all ask if I’ve thought about managing. I’d be like “nah, that’s not me.” I was being humble.
AllHipHop: But the whole time you wanted to manage?
Andy Kabamba: Right. It took Dre Moon to be like “bro, you’re a f##king manager bro. You want to do this s##t.” Yo I’m doing it, f##k it. Dre was my first real, from the bottom, client. He actually helped me create and name my company, 365 Management. I started and didn’t look back.
AllHipHop: Because you’re working 365 days of the year?
Andy Kabamba: Yup, I’m nonstop. I’m always on the go. I'm always ready to go for it and go at it. Dre helped me name it: “man, you’re nonstop.” We did a bunch of big records as a unit. Detail wrote a bunch of big records like ”Drunk in Love” and “I Luh Ya Papi” for J. Lo. Dre was responsible for everything we’re doing, it was a great run.
AllHipHop: How’d you tap in with Future?
Andy Kabamba: Detail and Future were working together a lot. They were on it. Future’s a genius, but Detail was definitely there helping with the production. Things took off. After things were going so crazy and well, Detail had a spiral out. He went crazy with the money, so I had to detach and make a name for myself. Go forth with the plans I had. At this point, I had found too many producers and brought them to the table. Detail did “We Dem Boyz” for Wiz Khalifa with a producer I found, this new kid in California named Choppa Boi.
We also did “Lookin’ Ass N##ga” for Nick Minaj. From there, kept transitioning. I went and grabbed another producer named Bobby Johnson, he did “7/11” with Detail for Beyonce. I was orchestrating massive records. I’m like “yo, I’m done. I need to do my own thing. This guy’s going too crazy, he’s getting a bit over his head. Time for me to expand myself.” I took my clients, did my thing, started from the bottom again. First person to believe in me, take a shot and call me after I moved on from Detail, was Future.
AllHipHop: So what’d you end up doing with Future?
Andy Kabamba: Dre Moon started working with Future nonstop, bringing him beats. Future called me personally, “come by the studio, hang out.” We’re friends at this point. I told him about Detail, he’s running through the industry and telling people I left him and I wasn’t loyal. Detail was going through it with Drake too. I was over it. The Drake run was amazing, can’t forget that. Detail did “305 to my City” with Dre Moon, Dre Moon did “Own It.” I had Dre Moon signed to Detail. Before the fall out, we did all this big stuff. “Pound Cake,” it was a good time.
AllHipHop: Do you miss dancing?
Andy Kabamba: I was amazing, I was more than good. I miss it a little bit, but it takes a lot out of your body. My body has all these aches and soreness now. I’m 31 years old, I still feel strong. But my body’s still taking a toll, besides drinking. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How did you land with T-Pain?
Andy Kabamba: I met T-Pain in the Cash Money days. Once I was doing my own thing, we connected back in Los Angeles. At this point, Future had brought me back in the game fully. Put me in certain plays for him: A&R for him, placing records, collaborating with Chris Brown, Puffy, L.A. Reid. As my name got back in the system, it was a click back. Ran into T-Pain, he’s like “damn, you grew up!” I said “it’s good to see you, it’s been a minute. Let’s get this fire back on!”
AllHipHop: What all do you have your hands in right now?
Andy Kabamba: I got T-Pain. Dre Moon, my superstar as far as production goes. A1 Bentley, who’s a phenomenal producer, songwriter, and artist. I have Lakeith Stanfield.
AllHipHop: How’d you tap in with Lakeith, who’s an actor?
Andy Kabamba: We met on this flight 2 years ago in Atlanta. We sat at the airport drinking for hours. Me, him, and Dre Moon all connected. Dre was flying in from working with Future, we’re all headed back to LA. A crazy flight because everybody was on there: Akon, Lakeith, a few actors. A legendary flight actually! We had to make the flight land in Texas, they had to get the police to escort us off the plane. Dre got too drunk.
AllHipHop: What advice do you have for those who want to manage?
Andy Kabamba: Stay persistent. Double check everything. Triple check everything! Those are my main things. Don’t think something is done, don’t think something is okay. It’s not, it’s never okay.
AllHipHop: What goals do you have for yourself?
Andy Kabamba: Break out this new artist I signed named Savanah from North Carolina, amazing kid. R&B singer, got the ladies on lock. My goal’s always to reach that Birdman level, making sure my clients reach that superstar level. Where I want Pain is not where we are yet. I believe we can because anything’s possible with such a young guy. He’s one of the youngest pioneers in this game, 34 years old. There are guys out here way older going crazy. You wouldn’t even believe that Tyga’s older than T-Pain, mind-blowing. This whole time I thought Lil Wayne was younger than T-Pain.
AllHipHop: What percent should managers get with the artists?
Andy Kabamba: A manager should get 15%. If he’s doing everything by himself all the way, 20%. The standard management fee is 15%. If you’re dividing that with another person, break it down to 7%. If it’s a team, a partnership, a collective: 15%. Biggest advice in the game I got from L.A. Reid: if you can't move your artists, you ain’t nothing. If you can’t move your artist to show up to a certain interview, show, appearance, red carpet, whatever it is paid or not paid, you ain’t nothing. Period.